Freshly Minted: Lorisia MacLeod
January 16, 2017
MLIS Candidate, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta / Diversity Scholar, Association of Research Libraries / Indigenous Intern, University of Alberta
Which information studies program are you attending?
I am attending the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. I started the on-campus, course-based program this past fall and have just completed my first term.
What are your current classes like? Which is your favorite so far, and why?
This fall term, I took four fundamental courses:
- LIS 501: Foundations of Library and Information Studies
- LIS 502: Organization of Information
- LIS 503: Reference and Information Services
- LIS 504: Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services
All of these courses were pretty amazing but if I had to choose a favorite I think I would have to say that the Leadership and Management course. This course was appealing to me right away because of my interest in leadership but what made it my favorite course was the diverse stories that all the students shared regarding their past experiences. It really rounds out my understanding of the sort of challenges face managers and team members. When learning about managerial theories, it was really handy to have anecdotes to apply to the theories.
Is there one aspect of the profession that surprises you that you were not expecting when you started the program? What is it?
I was pleasantly surprised about how accessible everyone in the field is to students. Before starting classes I contacted all of my professors to meet with them and every single one was willing to take time out of their busy day to meet with me. Even beyond that there was directors and managers that when I reached out were very happy to sit down and talk about their training and knowledge base. I guess I thought that as a student, important people wouldn’t have much time for me but I was pleasantly surprised with how supportive the field is of their students.
What was it that initially drove you to librarianship?
I think I always knew that I was going to get a Masters degree because I really enjoy being a student and learner. After my Undergrad, I decided to gain some more work experience and I ended up working for the municipal government. I found myself invigorated by information policies, FOIP legislation, and records management. I found I enjoyed discussing metadata standards and how to improve retention schedules. During the two years that I worked there, I realized that I wanted to know more about how information is and should be treated. Most importantly, my work experience affirmed that my long term professional goals were aimed towards upper management positions where I could lead and mentor. With that in mind, I looked into the MLIS and where that could lead me. Once I realized that the MLIS was the perfect blend of leadership learning and the technical skills I was thrilled with in my previous positions, I knew that this was the program for me.
If you could work anywhere, and do anything with information, what would your dream job look like?
I would like to be the head of a library or the head of a government division that deals with information. I have always been interested in learning how to be a good leader and mentor so I would like a job that would allow me to continue to develop those skills with the individuals I work with. Since I have worked in government before, I already know that policy application and legislation are aspects that I find very interesting and I would like to be able to play a more active role in shaping those defining documents.
If someone were considering going to library school, what would you advise them about?
I would advise them to talk to the people in the field particularly if there are certain positions in which they are interested. Most people love speaking about their work and the experiences that led them there so it can really give you an idea of what the job entails and what education would help you get that job. It can also be great to ask them what was one experience or class they wish they had taken to better prepare them for their position- this can give you some great ideas using the benefit of their hindsight. Personally, I have found that most people are very happy to speak with students especially with the offer of coffee; after all, in but two years you might be their colleague. You might even find a mentor who will help you through library school and the professional world beyond.
What do you think is the most important aspect of being an information professional today?
So far in my discussions with professionals and my education, I would have to say the element of balance stuck out to me as being a key part. Information professionals have the difficult job of managing changing technologies, literacies, and budgets while maintaining the high ethical standards that we hold ourselves to. Not to mention that while juggling all of that we are still constantly striving towards the public good for those of today and those of tomorrow. Information professionals have to strike a balance between technical skills and people skills and then maintain that balance as budgets, popular technologies, and the needs of their patrons shift.